Backcountry Ski Bindings


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Maximize your backcountry fun with these tips

Pins in certain bindings from 2017/18 could break, posing a fall risk

The race is on to create the perfect beyond-the-ropes setup.

The short answer? It all depends on what kind of skiing you want to do.

For years, I used to test how far I could go on day trips without eating. I don’t know if it was some unexplainable machismo or just laziness, but that mindset changed about six months ago. I’d gone on a four-hour run with an empty stomach and no food in…

It’s tough to tell how trustworthy a piece of gear is going to be when you first buy it. In fact, the only way to actually test your equipment’s longevity is to, well, test it. Thoroughly. So instead of having you, dear reader, put your gear through the ringer in…

Forget about rubbing two sticks together. Without matches, your only hope of getting a fire started in the wild is to take advantage of other tools at your disposal. Mykel Hawke—a former U.S. Army Special Forces Green Beret and founder of survival school Spec Ops—recommends two easy,…

Yes, I write about gear for a living, I have access to the most sophisticated toys and tools in the outdoor world, and I’m constantly geeking out over tech details. But I’m keenly aware of the fact that the gear does not make the athlete. I was a much better…

I'm having trouble figuring out what gear to give my loved ones for the holidays.

The first 16-DIN tech binding, the new Beast features a “return to center” toe piece. As you ski, the binding deflects to absorb shock. It’s one of the reasons, safety-wise, alpine-style bindings outperform tech bindings.

Rossignol’s honeycombed tip and tail shed mass where it’s vital—away from your body. As a result, it’s effortless to throw the Soul 7 sideways in the trees or whenever you need to scrub speed.

You now have two choices when it comes to telemark bindings: 75mm (traditional duckbill) and the newer NTN. The former is favored for its simplicity, lower cost, and greater variety of boot choices, but NTN is vastly more powerful and releasable, and it’s better-suited to driving today’s fattest skis.

Dynafit-style tech bindings, like the Radical and the La Sportiva RT, are the only ones that offer a true free pivot, meaning there’s no hardware attached to your boot heel or sole. They have fewer moving parts, ice up less, and require 15 percent less energy from you than other bindings.

Go deeper with our favorite telemark and alpine touring bindings of the year.

Outside picks the best gear for your alpine-touring setup, including the K2 WayBack skis.

Atomic and Salomon have collaborated to create a powerful alpine touring ski binding.

Outside reviews the best gear in the 2012 Winter Buyer's Guide, including the Line Celebrity 100 skis.

Outside reviews the best gear in the 2012 Winter Buyer's Guide, including the Marker Duke bindings

What's the ultimate telemark setup this year? The Editors Santa Fe, NM

TELEMARK Good for Touring The overhauled Switchback won many converts with its new bomber 410 heat-treated stainless-steel toe bar. “A perfect match with lighter two- or three-buckle boots for touring,” said one Wasatch-based tester. It is the lightest telemark-touring binding on the market, but hard-and-heavy chargers preferred the beefier,…

Testers praised the Targa Ascent's bomber construction, but flat-out raved about its uphill performance: A free-pivot mode offers touring without resistance, which means you'll conserve power for that extra lap. 3.1 lbs; genuineguidegear.com   Bonus: The heel piece flips vertically to serve as the climbing bar.   Bummer: Difficult to…

Good for Touring If you spend as much time going up as coming down, the new Dynafits are the way to go. They're unbelievably light but tougher than they look. “You really can charge on these,” maintained one tester. The Vertical FT12 is fundamentally the same as the previous…

Alpine Touring The Eagle’s wider mounting platform is sturdier than its predecessors’ and better at transferring power to the ski for increased edge-to-edge responsiveness. Accepts most alpine and all AT boots, and the smartly designed heelpiece makes switching from touring to downhill a cinch. 4.3 lbs. TAGS: smooth, sturdy…

With an alpine-style toe piece, a DIN of 13, and a heel lock to prevent an inadvertent switch to touring mode, the Naxo is ideal for aggressive big-mountain skiers. In touring mode, a smartly designed pivoting mechanism saves you energy by mimicking your natural uphill stride. 4.9 lbs; bcaccess.com  …

ALPINE TOURING Good for Alpine Touring A smaller version of the nx22 Black, the nx22 White better accommodates women's boot sizing and features Naxo's three-point hinge for ergonomic skinning. In downhill mode, torsional rigidity offers intimate power transfer from boot to ski. 4.6 lbs; backcountryaccess.com  …

Telemark Before last year, women and men with feet smaller than size 26 were locked out from the NTN party. This year, there are several women’s-size NTN-compatible boots, including options from Garmont (below), SCARPA, and Crispi. See page 88 for more details about this binding design. 3.9 lbs. TAGS:…

Our testers agree: The stainless-steel HammerHead is the toughest, most adjustable binding out there. Pick from five underfoot cable settings for varying terrain, foot size, or skill level. 3 lbs; twentytwodesigns.com   Bonus: Enjoy more than two inches of spring travel for ultimate control on big, steep lines.   Bummer:…

TELEMARK Good for Telemark The Bombshell wins again. She's, well, bomber, with five settings that allow for a handful of telemark styles; a solid, stainless-steel toepiece; and a six-inch, front-mounted compression spring that's 20 percent softer than the men's counterpart. 3.1 lbs; twentytwodesigns.com      …

Thanks to a DIN of 16, an innovative toe-height adjustment, and a beefy plate underfoot, the new Duke outperforms all other AT bindings on the descent. Or, as one tester put it, “The playing field has totally changed.” 5.6 lbs; markerusa.com   Bonus: There's nearly zero ramp angle, so you…

Good for Telemark Now available in a size small, the NTN binding offers women accustomed to alpine-like control and power a no-sacrifices way to get into telemark skiing. Testers liked that they didn't have to bend over and mess with cables to get in and out. And everyone praised…

The Explore has the same bells and whistles as Fritschi's classic Freeride—an adjustable toe piece to fit different boots, a four-level climbing bar, and a mindless alpine-style step-in—but it's considerably lighter. 3.8 lbs; bdel.com      …

Simple, easy to use, and time-tested, the durable Freeride remains as comfortable inbounds as it is on the Haute Route. Its 6–12 DIN accommodates a wide range of skiing styles and abilities, making this one of the most versatile AT bindings around.4.5 lbs; blackdiamondequipment.com      …

With five adjustable underfoot cable settings, this binding, which was built to accommodate smaller boot sizes, suits all levels. 3 lbs; twentytwodesigns.com      …

The tour mode still lacks the flexibility of traditional bindings, but the wide range of variously stiff, color-coded cables makes the NTN a good choice for skiers of all abilities. “This binding truly brings telemark skiing to a new level,” said one neophyte. 5.4 lbs; rottefella.com  …

Good for Big Mountain With features like a free-pivot touring mechanism, a reliable safety release, brakes, and the closest thing to step-in convenience in the freeheel world, the NTN (New Telemark Norm) binding represents a significant departure from conventional tele bindings. While it can be overpowering when matched with…

ALPINE TOURING Good for All Mountain An update of the mainstay Fritschi Free-ride, the Eagle moves the pivot back an inch for a more natural skinning gait and broadens the mounting pattern for wider skis. “Kick turns are way easier than on Freerides,” said a tester. The DINs go…

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